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ICC Drops Case Against Kenya's Francis Muthaura

Fatou Bensouda, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), said Monday that she has filed a motion to drop charges against Kenya's former civil service chief Francis Muthaura, who was accused of crimes against humanity and other offenses allegedly committed following the 2007 general elections.

Nevertheless, Bensouda reiterated in a statement issued Monday that that charges remain against the president-elect Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, who defeated Prime Minister Raila Odinga in the March 4 election. Kenyatta's trial was originally scheduled to begin next month, but judges recently postponed it until July.

"This is an exceptional decision. I did not take it lightly, but I believe it is the right thing to do," Fatou Bensouda said, adding she has already explained to the judge that several people who may have provided important evidence in the case have either died or are too afraid to testify for the prosecution.

Bensouda also noted that the Prosecution lost the testimony of its key witness "after this witness recanted a crucial part of his evidence, and admitted to us that he had accepted bribes." She said it was "disappointing" that the Kenyan government had failed to provide her office with important evidence and failed to facilitate access to critical witnesses.

More than 1,100 people were killed, 3,500 injured and up to 600,000 forcibly displaced in the violence that followed the December 2007 elections in Kenya.

In January last year, the ICC had established substantial grounds to believe that the crimes of murder, deportation or forcible transfer, rape, other inhumane acts and persecution were committed in an attack on the civilian residents of Nakuru and Naivasha towns between 24 and 28 January 2008.

The Court also named Muthaura criminally responsible for the alleged crimes as an indirect co-perpetrator, alongside Kenyatta, the deputy Prime Minister and winner of last week's presidential election.

"Let me be absolutely clear on one point - this decision applies only to Mr. Muthaura. It does not apply to any other case," Bensouda said in her statement, insisting that the recent political developments in Kenya "have no influence, at all, on the decisions that I make as Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court."

by RTT Staff Writer

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